New chapter in Barrie’s Holly community: Library branch to open late summer or early fall

Planned location is a plaza storefront

A third branch of the Barrie Public Library got the support of city council at Monday’s approval of the 2021 budget, after first being put on the radar more than 10 years ago.

“We are thrilled to have received the support from Council to make this dream a reality, ” said Austin Mitchell, Barrie Public Library Board Chair.

There is still plenty of work in the months ahead to get the doors open.

City council has asked staff in Corporate Facilities to be authorized to negotiate a lease for the Holly Public Library Branch (HPLB) and report back to General Committee. Until a lease agreement is executed between the landlord and the City, all funding associated with the Holly Public Library Branch will be withheld.

“We’re looking at a five plus five term for the lease. So, you know, we’re hoping to be in this space for around 10 years or so. This community is growing and we may grow out of this location quite quickly,” said Lauren Jessop, Barrie Public Library Chief Executive Officer. “We always keep our eyes open for opportunities that exist in the neighbourhood to expand.”

The planned location is a plaza storefront at Essa Rd. and Mapleton Ave, approximately 4,500 square feet in size.

Jessop said this boutique library space will offer books, movies, computer access, printing and more. Mobile shelving and furniture will allow for more space, if needed.

“It’s really been a team effort to get us to this place,” continued Jessop. “Our staff have been as passionate about it as the Holly residents, so it’s wonderful to get this news and share the excitement. Libraries are proven to boost literacy rates and they provide equal access to trusted information, which are both more important now than ever.” 

The new branch carries a $1.18 million capital cost, which library officials have said will be paid from fundraising and development charges, and of the $723,877 annual operating costs, $221,000 is for salaries and benefits.

The Barrie Public Library has a main branch downtown and a 15,000 square foot branch in the area of Big Bay Point Rd. and Yonge St.

In 2020 the library added 5,500 new members, offered 1,341 programs attended by 24,703 people, more than 461,000 physical items were borrowed, and over 276,000 e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines were borrowed.